Liquid Assets

Wines for the Holidays

With all the wonderful food and new recipes hitting your kitchen over the next few weeks, we thought you might enjoy trying some new wines. Any of the examples below will match nicely with turkey, ham, or vegetarian feasts. Since it's a time to reflect and be thankful, I'd like to start with being grateful for our pioneering Texas winemakers. Working in thankless conditions that take time and money to bear fruit, they have nevertheless wrested some delicious wine from their grapes. Some of my favorites include Texas Hills Vineyards' Pinot Grigio ($13), Becker Vineyards' Viognier ($14), Spicewood Vineyards' Merlot ($13), Fall Creek Vineyards' Granite Reserve ($12), and Cana Cellars' Muscat Canelli ($17).

French wines (other than Bordeaux, Burgundy, and Champagne) are now selling at bargain prices due to the strength of the dollar. Michael Housewright at Central Market South pressed a bottle of Les Faisandines Cotes du Rhone in my hand with the promise that I would love it. And I did, especially for the price of $7.99. It's a nice peppery wine that goes perfectly with turkey. Another tremendous turkey choice, though hard to find, is the Cave de Cairanne Cotes du Rhone Villages "Temptation" ($10). Trimbach's Riesling ($17) is a great match with ham or vegetarian meals, with its appley aromas. Larger stores may carry the Willm line from Alsace, featuring bargains like their Pinot Gris ($10). George Duboeuf's Morgon Grande Cuvee with the flower label ($13) tastes like fresh cherries covered with bitter chocolate and is a steal at the price.

Merlot is a traditional choice with turkey, and we've had some excellent examples this year. The prime bargain is the Cavit Merlot ($10 for a big bottle) from a co-op in Italy. Other incredibly good buys include Chile's Casa La Postelle Merlot ($8), Washington state's Columbia Crest Merlot ($11), California's Fetzer Merlot Sonoma County ($12), and Sebastiani Merlot Sonoma County ($17). I recommend picking three or four of the Merlots. Hide the labels and have everyone take a little taste of each wine, then pick the winner. You may be surprised.

Finally, the holidays wouldn't be the holidays without the tinkle of champagne glasses toasting. Sparkling wines are made all over the world, but no one can compete with the cost-to-quality ratio of the Gruet family's offerings from New Mexico. Their Blanc de Blanc ($13 made from Chardonnay) and Blanc de Noir ($13 made from Pinot Noir) are as good as most $30 bottles from France.

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